From beginner to APA4

justnum

Principal Investigator of Magic Trick Shots
Silver Member
I have taken people (more girls than boys). who did not know how to hold a pool cue. at the local bar. and had them shooting at APA-3 in 20 minutes.
Was that a pickup line?
"Can I show you how to hold the cue"
 

BlueRaider

Registered
I have taken people (more girls than boys). who did not know how to hold a pool cue. at the local bar. and had them shooting at APA-3 in 20 minutes.
Showing someone a proper stance and bridge goes a LONG way towards making the game at its most basic level much, much easier. I hated pool until my college roommate showed me how to make a proper open bridge. I went from regularly miscuing to being able to make 3-4 balls in a row if they were laying good.
 
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lorider

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Sometimes just one simple thing can improve your game enough to go up another level.

I have a team mate who recently moved up to a 4. In both 8 and 9 ball after 10 years of being a 3 in both.

I have known this old man for several years and we used to play on the same team years ago.

He joined my team last session and i was puzzled how he has remained a 3 all this time because i know he is not a sandbagger.

One night i decided to call a time out on him because i thought he was taking the wrong shot and would leave himself bad on his last ball. It was obvious he was lining up to cut a ball down the table to a corner pocket and i suggested to him to shoot it in the side....no harder cut than the corner but would leave him better position on his next ball.

He said he couldnt make that shot. I said sure you can...its no harder than the shot you are attempting. He said he always misses shots in the side and so he never attempts them. Say what ???

I told him if you aim where i show you and hit the cue ball where i show you it will go and leave you better position on your next ball. He still seemed uncertain and i said just try it. So he shoots it and it falls. He stands up grinning from ear to ear and said ...i made it. I couldn't help but laugh. So since then he has started shooting with more confidence ...missing less shots which has resulted in fewer innings per match and a higher win percentage and has been raised to a 4 in both 8 and 9 ball and he is as proud as a peacock.
 

Geosnookery

Well-known member
All is subjective.

I’ve diligently played guitar for over 50 years. However, I’m a ‘decent’ player at best. In contrast at age 17, with a year experience in Judo and only a yellow belt, l was holding my own against top European competitors in my weight class.

I have zero aptitude in the arts and a natural aptitude In sports. If we all go out to play golf frisbee, cricket, badminton, white water kayaking, etc...we know which friends or family members will pick it up quickly. In contrast, my drawing of a dog will look like a potato with toothpicks.

Anyways, performance in billiards is the same. Give a couple hours coaching to a star quarterback who has never picked up a cue and he would be holding his own after a couple weeks against my sister who has played a couple decades.
 

MitchAlsup

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Was that a pickup line?
"Can I show you how to hold the cue"
It is more than just showing them how to hold the cue,
It is also about how to make a bridge and get the front hand in a reasonable position,
It is also about getting their dominant eye over the cue stick,
And teaching them to use the cue stick as a pointing device,
And showing them where the cue stick needs to be pointing!

Depending on their initial success, I might get behind them (crouching) so I can hold the back of the cue stick and put it on line, then hold their elbow on the stroking arm to make sure the upper body is not moving. I also go to the delivery end of the table and give then a point to shoot at so they get a feel of the angle the CB needs to hit OB.

Now the curious thing about all of this, the girls were all present with their boyfriends, and after doing all of this to their girlfriends, not a single one of the boyfriends was unhappy !!
 

Straightpool_99

I see dead balls
Silver Member
All is subjective.

I’ve diligently played guitar for over 50 years. However, I’m a ‘decent’ player at best. In contrast at age 17, with a year experience in Judo and only a yellow belt, l was holding my own against top European competitors in my weight class.

I have zero aptitude in the arts and a natural aptitude In sports. If we all go out to play golf frisbee, cricket, badminton, white water kayaking, etc...we know which friends or family members will pick it up quickly. In contrast, my drawing of a dog will look like a potato with toothpicks.

Anyways, performance in billiards is the same. Give a couple hours coaching to a star quarterback who has never picked up a cue and he would be holding his own after a couple weeks against my sister who has played a couple decades.
The bar the OP set is extremely low, though. I'd venture to say that ANYONE, unless there is something seriously wrong with them (eyesight, severe joint/back problems, or some sort of learning disability) should be able to play at this level in short order. That is if they get their fundamentals up to a minimum level. I'm talking a couple of lessons and a few hours of work on stance, grip, bridges etc. Then a few months of play and drills if the person is up for that.

I'll never be the World pool champion, I don't have that extreme aptitude for the game. I've been playing 20 years and I'm still improving a little by little and I don't think it is impossible to reach Fargo 700 if my health holds up and I put the work in to play mostly pool rather than other cue games. For many years I was a 550 banger and looked like a hopeless prospect for improvement. For some the sky is the limit, for others their limit may be 550 fargo. You'll never know if you don't give it a really good try. I have a story about two boys who started at the same time. One showed very early promise and was good almost instantly. The other played ok, but not great. He stuck with it, and guess what, he overtook the talented one and became extremely good. 100 ball runner etc...Because he worked hard, his game became rock solid and he was both better overall than his friend as well as much more consistent. They've both quit now, for studies and work, but I'm convinced the less talented player could and would have been a national champion in time.

If someone puts time and effort in, there is simply no excuse other than the ones mentioned to not reach a low 500 fargo. I've been playing this game for about 20 years now, and I've never seen anyone fail to reach that level, if they stuck around and worked for a bit. Those that quit early, of course didn't, but they usually were no worse than the people who stuck with it. In this country, pool is considered a "sport" sort of, doesn't have the status, but the practitioners consider it a sport. We don't have APA or monday night drinking leagues. So my observation is from a pool hall, where people train and take the game seriously. When I told the OP 6 months max to reach 400-450, I mean 6 months of several sessions a week of course. If you play once a week or more seldom it may take a couple of years if you don't have any aptitude at all. If you have aptitude it may happen in a month or less.
 
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BlueRaider

Registered
All is subjective.

I’ve diligently played guitar for over 50 years. However, I’m a ‘decent’ player at best. In contrast at age 17, with a year experience in Judo and only a yellow belt, l was holding my own against top European competitors in my weight class.

I have zero aptitude in the arts and a natural aptitude In sports. If we all go out to play golf frisbee, cricket, badminton, white water kayaking, etc...we know which friends or family members will pick it up quickly. In contrast, my drawing of a dog will look like a potato with toothpicks.

Anyways, performance in billiards is the same. Give a couple hours coaching to a star quarterback who has never picked up a cue and he would be holding his own after a couple weeks against my sister who has played a couple decades.
I spent an afternoon playing with a guy who had bounced back and forth from minor league to the MLB. An elite baseball player by any means but not quite good to stick on a pro roster.

Pool to him was just an occasional hobby, not something he really took seriously, and he was still quite good at it. His shotmaking was excellent. I remember him hammering some long distance stop shots with zero side spin on the cue ball. His break was also excellent. Both signs of very good aim and a very straight stroke, which I assume came naturally to him.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Who was instructing that 16-year-old phenom? Pretty incredible story. I know people debate the talent issue in pool, but I've heard of similar meteoric rises that completely defy normal expectations and timelines for reaching certain skill levels.
Probably no one was really instructing him. That would have been back in the 1930s and instruction seems to have been rare back then. His name was Joe Bachelor. A mutual acquaintance commented, "Yeah, six months, but he wasn't doing anything but playing pool." That might have been 8-10 hours per day, and he was probably playing for something.
 

justadub

Rattling corners nightly
Silver Member
ok no problem... so if you're telling me that no one in a group of SL2's only ever competing against only themselves will experience a raise in their handicap based on their play within that group, then I stand corrected and you'll never see me speak of the possibility again.

Some how I think something is being lost in translation, but I will most definitely bow to your knowledge on the subject matter.

Thanks for clarifying
I can't give you empirical evidence, but I can give you a real world example or two. I'm a SL5. I play in the woods, in the middle of nowhere (Bangor, ME). The only time I ever play anyone outside my division is if my teams make it to the tri-cup, and/or Vegas qualifier tournaments. (That's a max of 4 times a year, no more than 3 matches per tournament. So not a lot of exposure outside my regular territory.)

I'm pretty much in the middle of the pack so far as SL5's in our area, by my estimation. Perhaps lower than middle, but I can hang with any of them.

Our team went to Vegas a couple years ago. I wasn't out classed against any of the SL5's that I played there, and we had 6 some odd matches out there. I felt that I was pretty much in line with the people that I played. To echo that further, I didn't see anyone on any of the teams that we faced that I felt were out of line with their Skill Level. One or two might have been on the strong side, and a good bet to go up in the future. (Which is a likely possibility in any group of players.) But no one was playing way over their skill level, to my estimation. Nor to the estimation of the SL7 on my team, as we had this discussion before.

I've always chuckled at the thought process that everyone that plays in Vegas has a much higher ability per Skill Level than what we see out here in the middle of nowhere. Cuz I didn't see it, in my first hand experience.

I think that the APA does a decent job of getting it close. Its not right all the time, but its right a lot more than it isn't. And when it isn't, its usually pretty close, most of the time. (One Skill Level off, something that will usually catch up in time.) Given the scope, its reasonable.
 

The_JV

'AZB_Combat Certified'
I can't give you empirical evidence, but I can give you a real world example or two. I'm a SL5. I play in the woods, in the middle of nowhere (Bangor, ME). The only time I ever play anyone outside my division is if my teams make it to the tri-cup, and/or Vegas qualifier tournaments. (That's a max of 4 times a year, no more than 3 matches per tournament. So not a lot of exposure outside my regular territory.)

I'm pretty much in the middle of the pack so far as SL5's in our area, by my estimation. Perhaps lower than middle, but I can hang with any of them.

Our team went to Vegas a couple years ago. I wasn't out classed against any of the SL5's that I played there, and we had 6 some odd matches out there. I felt that I was pretty much in line with the people that I played. To echo that further, I didn't see anyone on any of the teams that we faced that I felt were out of line with their Skill Level. One or two might have been on the strong side, and a good bet to go up in the future. (Which is a likely possibility in any group of players.) But no one was playing way over their skill level, to my estimation. Nor to the estimation of the SL7 on my team, as we had this discussion before.

I've always chuckled at the thought process that everyone that plays in Vegas has a much higher ability per Skill Level than what we see out here in the middle of nowhere. Cuz I didn't see it, in my first hand experience.

I think that the APA does a decent job of getting it close. Its not right all the time, but its right a lot more than it isn't. And when it isn't, its usually pretty close, most of the time. (One Skill Level off, something that will usually catch up in time.) Given the scope, its reasonable.
I generally only got exposed to the 6/7s so I can't put any real world examples up for consideration for the lower handicaps. What I can say is in the 6/7 bracket within my small town you will see a varying array of talent across different rooms. What a SL6 in one room would be a SL5 in another. Dominate SL7s in one, would be a SL6 in the other.

That flies in the face of what I've been told here, but I don't play CPA(APA) regular league anymore so I've grown indifferent.
 

justadub

Rattling corners nightly
Silver Member
I think the 6 months only "counts" if the player is actively practicing and learning. I spent probably 3-4 years as an APA 3 (wasn't in league but roughly that skill level), but I only practiced a handful of times a year and never read/watched any instructional materials. I just played my buddies and random people in dive bars. But I do agree that 6 months of focused practice and research should get you to roughly APA 4 level. 1 year mark to reach APA 5 and 2 years to APA 6.

I went to SL4 in about a year or so. (Actually started as SL4, went down after the first couple weeks, then back up after that year or so.)

I went to SL5 in about 2 years. I was motivated to get to SL6 in the next year.

Didn't happen. I went after it pretty hard for 2-3 years. Playing multiple nights a week, some nights on my own as close to structured practice as I could, at our local club. (No table at home.) Played practice rounds with my friends who are much stronger players than I, picking their brains as much as I could. Reading up with books, and here online. It just wasn't gonna happen. (I started later in life, too, which didn't help.)

Many years later, I'm still a SL5. After that initial 2-3 year push for SL6, I began playing music again, and I had much less extra time to spend on pool, so that ship has sailed.
 

dquarasr

Registered
I totally need reset my expectations. I am an APA four, having been elevated recently to a five then smacked back down to a four. I haven’t won a match in over a month. I’ve practiced, and practiced, and practiced. Then practiced some more. I can’t seem to progress. I have plateaued. Keep missing the same easy shots. Make some of the harder shots. Absolutely maddening. Walk up to a practice shot, totally convinced I’m aligned properly. Shoot the shot. Miss it a skosh CB left. Line it up again. Convinced I’m lined up. Miss it the exact same way. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I don’t know how to correct it. The shot looks right. Video shows my stroke to be sound. Still miss the shot the same way over and over and over. Adjust stance. Adjust backstroke. Make a few. Walk away. Return to the table hours later, miss the same f$&@ing way. Deflating. Gutting. At wits’ end.

Yes, I know, I need a coach. But damn this game. So close to being pretty good, yet so far from being pretty good
 

Straightpool_99

I see dead balls
Silver Member
I totally need reset my expectations. I am an APA four, having been elevated recently to a five then smacked back down to a four. I haven’t won a match in over a month. I’ve practiced, and practiced, and practiced. Then practiced some more. I can’t seem to progress. I have plateaued. Keep missing the same easy shots. Make some of the harder shots. Absolutely maddening. Walk up to a practice shot, totally convinced I’m aligned properly. Shoot the shot. Miss it a skosh CB left. Line it up again. Convinced I’m lined up. Miss it the exact same way. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I don’t know how to correct it. The shot looks right. Video shows my stroke to be sound. Still miss the shot the same way over and over and over. Adjust stance. Adjust backstroke. Make a few. Walk away. Return to the table hours later, miss the same f$&@ing way. Deflating. Gutting. At wits’ end.

Yes, I know, I need a coach. But damn this game. So close to being pretty good, yet so far from being pretty good
If you post a video, there are people on here who will give you pointers. I understand if you don't want to, but many people have gotten help on here.
 

CGM

It'd be a lot cooler if you did.
Silver Member
How much time for you to become APA4 when you begin to work hard ?
Thanks to share
All kidding aside it took me 4 years to go from a SL3 in both to a SL7 in both. Your mileage may vary. I do have a table at home and I have received one lesson from Scott Lee. I have watched tons of videos both instructional and professional matches. I will say that when I face a real player in a tournament I usually get my lunch eaten. It shouldn't take you long to become a SL4 but then again I play with people that have been playing for 15 years that are still 3's and 4's. It all depends on how much time you are willing to invest on the table outside of your scheduled APA matches..
 

hang-the-9

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I totally need reset my expectations. I am an APA four, having been elevated recently to a five then smacked back down to a four. I haven’t won a match in over a month. I’ve practiced, and practiced, and practiced. Then practiced some more. I can’t seem to progress. I have plateaued. Keep missing the same easy shots. Make some of the harder shots. Absolutely maddening. Walk up to a practice shot, totally convinced I’m aligned properly. Shoot the shot. Miss it a skosh CB left. Line it up again. Convinced I’m lined up. Miss it the exact same way. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I don’t know how to correct it. The shot looks right. Video shows my stroke to be sound. Still miss the shot the same way over and over and over. Adjust stance. Adjust backstroke. Make a few. Walk away. Return to the table hours later, miss the same f$&@ing way. Deflating. Gutting. At wits’ end.

Yes, I know, I need a coach. But damn this game. So close to being pretty good, yet so far from being pretty good

Yes you will need someone to help you, getting past just being OK without help from a better player or instructor is very very hard.
Just "practice" won't help, "correct practice" will. I see way too many people say they are practicing when they are just tossing out a bunch of balls and shooting the same way they always do just for longer. People need someone to guide the practice to see what is being done wrong during a miss and to guide the adjustments needed.
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
It's been 4 days, you should be an APA 4 now :)

Actually, as mentioned, there are way too many variables. I played for 20 years but didn't join APA until I was out of the game for another 14 years and it took 1 rack (literally) before our LO bumped me up to a 4, then it took a year to work through enough matches to get to a 9.

My son started playing pool 6 months ago and he's an APA 4 and about to be a 5.

We have a lady on my team who is an SL1, she was an SL1 when she joined 2 years ago, I have worked with her, the former captain (who has many lower level students who have improved) has worked with her and she's still an SL1 after 2 years - she'll always be an SL1.

Point being - there are many, many variables.

1) Are you good enough to be an SL4?
2) Are you willing to practice to improve your game?
3) How many matches will you be playing weekly?

Good luck in your endeavor, keep us informed ;)
 

ddg45

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
How much time for you to become APA4 when you begin to work hard ?
Thanks to shaI

How much time for you to become APA4 when you begin to work hard ?
Thanks to share
I'm 67 and never really played until about 3 years ago. I wandered into a pool hall near my home one day, a great bartender and some advanced players took me under their wing and I started playing several days a week for an hour or 2. APA started me as a 3, I think, but I won a lot and became a 4 in my second session. My team captain held me out at the end of the first session because he didn't want me to get bumped up to a 4 right before cities. I'm still a 4, can play really well or suck badly, will need to be more consistent if I'm ever going to become a 5.
 

CapnCarom

New member
APA National Team Manual says "generally, players start as SL3"; ... LO *may* start a player at a higher SL if appropriate). I joined APA 16 years ago as a SL4, because at that time "guys start at 4, women start at 3"; I'm not sure if that was the National guideline at the time, or if the local LO just decided to do it. But, in any case, as the manual says, a new player should expect his/her SL to fluctuate in the first 10 weeks or so. The OP didn't (AFAIK) say how long he's been a league player, nor what SL he came in as. Assuming it was SL3, and Depending on his true abilities, the SL of his first handful(s) of opponents, the Win/Loss, and the # of innings (all factored in by the magical handicapping system) it's entirely possible to see a jump so SL4 (or even SL5) in those few weeks. When I joined as SL4, we were only an 8-ball team at the time, and as an experienced player, I jumped to SL5 in about 3 weeks and never looked back.
From there, it took me about 4 years to get to SL6, then a couple more to reach SL7. I oscillated between 6 & 7 for several years, fortunately never getting "locked in" as a 7 at Nationals :)
The BIG thing about SL behavior to keep in mind: when you Win, the lower your innings are, and the higher the difference between your SL and the SL of your opponent will cause your SL to move up. So, to move up faster, beat better players... with runouts!! :)
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I'm 67 and never really played until about 3 years ago. I wandered into a pool hall near my home one day, a great bartender and some advanced players took me under their wing and I started playing several days a week for an hour or 2. APA started me as a 3, I think, but I won a lot and became a 4 in my second session. My team captain held me out at the end of the first session because he didn't want me to get bumped up to a 4 right before cities. I'm still a 4, can play really well or suck badly, will need to be more consistent if I'm ever going to become a 5.

The range from 4-6 can vary greatly but in reality, at that level, you're probably making most of your straight in shots, cuts are getting a little better, banks are still very questionable, speed control is starting to play a role in your game, and you're starting to understand where the cueball goes after you shoot.

I suggest two things - start focusing on the tangent line (and how to stay on it or get off it) and work on speed control. Those two things alone will improve your game quickly.

APA National Team Manual says "generally, players start as SL3"; ... LO *may* start a player at a higher SL if appropriate). I joined APA 16 years ago as a SL4, because at that time "guys start at 4, women start at 3"; I'm not sure if that was the National guideline at the time, or if the local LO just decided to do it. But, in any case, as the manual says, a new player should expect his/her SL to fluctuate in the first 10 weeks or so. The OP didn't (AFAIK) say how long he's been a league player, nor what SL he came in as. Assuming it was SL3, and Depending on his true abilities, the SL of his first handful(s) of opponents, the Win/Loss, and the # of innings (all factored in by the magical handicapping system) it's entirely possible to see a jump so SL4 (or even SL5) in those few weeks. When I joined as SL4, we were only an 8-ball team at the time, and as an experienced player, I jumped to SL5 in about 3 weeks and never looked back.
From there, it took me about 4 years to get to SL6, then a couple more to reach SL7. I oscillated between 6 & 7 for several years, fortunately never getting "locked in" as a 7 at Nationals :)
The BIG thing about SL behavior to keep in mind: when you Win, the lower your innings are, and the higher the difference between your SL and the SL of your opponent will cause your SL to move up. So, to move up faster, beat better players... with runouts!! :)

Here in Boise they started me as a 3 but now they start the men at 4 and ladies at 3 in 9B and everyone starts as a 3 in 8B - I think, I haven't played 8B in a couple of years.

And yep, want your SL to go up then start getting less innings, that's the key. Our SL1 has legitimately had games with 20+ innings (multiple times), pretty sure she has more innings in one session then I do in the three years I've been in the league.
 
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